A climatologist for the people

January 17, 2018
Mark Seeley

In early January, near the end of an unrelenting cold snap in Minnesota, Mark Seeley graciously and enthusiastically talked about the weather for a spell.

Yes, he verified, our period of prolonged holiday discomfort was historic—the first such streak with 11 out of 12 days below zero in the Twin Cities since 1886-87. He would know. Seeley—with his soothing voice and endless knowledge of temps, dew points, and wind chill factors—is nothing if not “the voice of Minnesota weather.”

But throughout his 40 years as Extension climatologist and professor of atmospheric and climate science, he’s been much more than that, for citizens and public officials alike. Seeley will be retiring (more or less) in February, although he’ll continue to be a contributor on Minnesota Public Radio and also do commentary for TPT’s Almanac.

“Working for Extension has been a blessing for me because I’ve been in all 87 counties,” he says. “I’ve talked about weather and climate matters with about every constituent group in the state, spanning the entire breadth of the political system.”

Seeley is proud of being able “to talk about what’s going on in people’s backyards,” and in Minnesota that means a more profound experience of climate change than just about any other state. He’s appreciated his colleagues over the years, as well as the ethos of volunteerism among Minnesotans—many of whom gladly make their own weather observations.

“I certainly picked the right location,” Seeley says. “The Minnesota culture is as astute with their weather and climate observations as any of the states in the country… because of what we have to put up with.”